Pfizer (PFE) Earnings Fall On Patent Expiration

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) reported slow earnings growth last quarter after losing a patent on its Lipitor drug.

Pfizer’s first-quarter earnings fell two cents a share, from 60 to 58 cents, compared to a year ago, the company announced today. Revenue also dropped 7%.

Falling Lipitor sales were the main culprit behind the slow quarter. For the first time, the top-selling cholesterol drug faced competition from other generic, cheaper brands, resulting in a 42% sales decline. Pfizer’s exclusivity on the drug expired on November 30.

The good news for Pfizer shareholders is that analysts were expecting such a precipitous drop. In fact, the company actually managed to narrowly beat earnings expectations. That’s why the stock is virtually unchanged in late-day trading.

Other areas of Pfizer’s business picked up the Lipitor slack. Sales of pain drugs Lyrica and Celebrex rose 16% and 7%, respectively. Sales of anti-inflammatory drug Enbrel increased 3%. Viagra sales were up 6%.

Still, it will likely be a struggle for Pfizer to fully compensate for its lost Lipitor patent. The company has cut full-year earnings guidance from a range of $2.20 to $2.30 per share to a $2.14-$2.24 range.

For the year, Pfizer’s stock has gained 5.8%.

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